Ben Affleck to Republican Batman fans: I ‘probably’ don’t like you — but I want your money

Ben Affleck fans

In August I said that the thing that would hurt Ben Affleck the most as he attempted to become Batman was his outspoken politics: “If I were a betting man, I’d say that Mr. Affleck will continue saying and doing things in public that will make it harder for roughly half the nation to lose themselves in his version of “Batman” on opening night.”

Now, in an interview with Playboy, he proves me right.

Affleck: People now know me as a Democrat, and that will always be the case to some extent.

Playboy: Does that polarize viewers?

Affleck: It does, and you can bifurcate your audience. When I watch a guy I know is a big Republican, part of me thinks, I probably wouldn’t like this person if I met him, or we would have different opinions. That shit fogs the mind when you should be paying attention and be swept into the illusion.

Playboy: Still, won’t that happen whether you take positions on candidates or causes?

Affleck: I have misgivings about it, counterbalanced with the larger things I care about. I don’t blindly do this stuff when it makes it harder to do my own job. And there’s an awful lot of gross money-raising going on that has made me want to pull back a bit from pure electoral politics. […]

Yes Ben, if the guy you’re watching on screen is a Republican and you’re a Democrat, it’s safe to say that you’ll have “different opinions.” Your powers of deduction are not quite at Bruce Wayne’s level at the moment, but you are correct.

Here’s the part that is somewhat bizarre for the future Batman to disclose: “I probably wouldn’t like this person…”

There are a lot of things I think about Matt Damon and Ben Affleck and most of Hollywood’s liberal activists, but I only tend to think “I wouldn’t like them” when they come across as elitist jerks. How someone comports themselves dictates how I feel about them as a person — a political party affiliation alone does not. Does Ben Affleck have zero Republican relatives? He must not, or he wouldn’t say such ridiculous things.

I love my fellow Americans. I want to like all of them and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt, but it’s hard when guys like Ben Affleck and President Obama keep dividing people.

He’s what President Obama said to Univision in 2010:

“We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”

Here’s what Slate’s John Cook said in his maybe-sorta-kinda piece of satire (but not) titled ‘Thanksgiving Tips: How to pick a fight with your relatives this Thanksgiving.’ It was written just in time to coincide with the White House’s push to get family members to discuss Obamacare over the holidays:

First off, you should wait until everyone’s seated at the table before you try to get things started. That way you have a captive audience that has to watch the fireworks, and everyone is settled in for a nice long time. Getting the topic of conversation to politics shouldn’t be too hard. Stick to short, sarcastic, tendentious remarks to get things going. “I’m thankful for all that free stuff Obama gave me.” Once you’ve engaged the enemy, it won’t take much effort to pivot to whatever particular subject you feel most comfortable with.

Yes, according to the president and his most ardent disciples, your fellow Americans are “enemies.” Does anyone else find it weird that the president won’t call any number of thug-nations around the globe an enemy of America, but he will refer to his political opponents as such? But I digress…

Instead of just admitting that activist actors “fog the mind” of the audience with all sorts of extraneous junk, Ben Affleck lets us all know that an ‘R’ next to your name makes him immediately think that he “probably” doesn’t like you — even though he wants your money.

Why should I cough up my money for ‘Superman vs. Batman (vs. Wonder Woman?)’ when one of the lead actors openly conveys his disgust for me as a person? Because of my love of free markets, limited government, traditional American values and a strong national defense, Ben Affleck “probably” wouldn’t like me? It’s weird.

Yes Ben, it is possible to disagree with someone without being disagreeable. I know it’s hard for someone who lives in a Hollywood bubble, where everyone thinks along the same lines and tells each other how smart they are at cocktail parties (“Pass me the gruyère, will you?”) — but in the real world some of us get along with our politically-diverse family and friends just fine.

If Zack Snyder is smart, he’ll sit down privately with Ben and tell him to shut up with the political commentary until ‘Superman vs. Batman’ comes out. There are a lot of people who aren’t thrilled with the idea of Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight, and alienating roughly half the viewing audience out the gate is probably not a good PR move.

Hat tip to douglasernstblog.com reader PersonIsPerson for the story.

Related: Ben Affleck’s outspoken politics hurt his Batman more than his box office bombs

Related: Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ hits audiences with big ideas, soars over small-minded critics

Related: Man of Steel Trailer: Harbinger of an epic film

Related: David Goyer is right: The ‘Superman doesn’t kill’ rule hurts the character

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Superman vs. The Elite explores the big dilemma: Christ or Patton? To kill or not to kill?

DC’s animated original movies have a strong track record, and in 2012 they added to an impressive library with Superman vs. The Elite. In short, the movie explores the modern superhero’s dilemma: To kill or not to kill? More specifically related to Superman, perhaps we can ask: Should he be more like Christ or Gen. George S. Patton?

Is it a moral failing for superheroes to repeatedly capture super-powered villains who exist completely outside the rule of law? How much blood, if any, does Superman have on his hands due to his refusal to kill evil incarnate?

At the start of Superman vs. The Elite, a monster known as Atomic Skull kills two people on the city streets of Metropolis — infusing his victims with radioactive energy that turns them into volcanic ash or Pompeii-like sculptures. Superman asks why. The answer: they serve as Superman bait. That’s it.

The Atomic Skull Superman The Elite

Atomic Skull exists to kill, and he kills to draw out Superman.

Superman The Elite Skull victimSuperman refuses to end the monster’s life, and after a battle tears up half the city Atomic Skull is sent to a holding facility. Will it restrain him for long? First comes an exchange between Superman and Professor Baxter ensues at the United Nations:

Professor Baxter: “So was this justice, Superman? Millions in property damage. Helpless bystanders killed by a repeat meta-human felon who is now enjoying three square meals a day as a guest of the state. You had the power to end Atomic Skull’s criminal career — permanently. Why didn’t you?”

Superman: “I’m not anyone’s judge and jury, professor Baxter — definitely not an executioner. My powers do not put me above the law.”

Professor Baxter: “A noble sentiment, but are you the Superman that the 21st century needs? Why not use your power to fix the world? Let me reiterate that I am playing devil’s advocate. I’m a huge fan [of yours].”

Superman: “First, I don’t believe the world is broken — because when we say ‘the world,’ we’re really talking about is people. It’s always been my belief that people, at their core, are good. The grace of mankind is everywhere. You just have to open your eyes. Humanity has a limitless potential for good. My purpose it to help people reach that potential.”

Indeed, we can talk about the nature of man all day. Are people at their core all good? It’s a tough question — it depends on how you define “good.” They certainly have the potential for either great good or great evil — but Superman dodges the initial question: “Was this justice?”

Perhaps the right answer is that in a world with Atomic Skulls roaming around, the death penalty would need to be applied much more liberally. If humanity in the DC Universe can’t get its justice system right, why should Superman have to be the one to play judge, jury and executioner? As it stands, Atomic Skull escapes soon after his apprehension and kills Professor Baxter in the middle of the street.

Superman The Elite Death
Superman is super grumpy right now, because a guy who he apprehended only days earlier has escaped — and killed — again. Should he be mad at the citizens of Metropolis for having such a rotten justice system or at himself for allowing such madness to continue?

Manchester Black steps in and does what Superman won’t — he blows Atomic Skull’s head into a million pieces. Superman predictably flips out, but the citizens of Metropolis do not. One “woman on the street” interview sums up the mood of the city:

Citizen: “I’ve lived in Metropolis all my life. Superman has always been there for us, but so have those criminals he’s put away so many times. Maybe his way doesn’t work.”

Manchester Black Superman The Elite
My name is Manchester Black, and I can blow up your skull just by pointing my finger at you. I’ve got an itchy trigger finger, so don’t get on my bad side.

Or maybe Metropolis’ justice system doesn’t work?

The Elite, led by Manchester Black, are a shady group of anti-heroes whose tactics go too far. They wantonly kill anyone who doesn’t fit their definition of “good,” even going so far as to slaughter the entire political leadership of two warring countries. (Oddly enough, the media in the DC Universe give The Elite a pass on the execution, essentially saying: “Well, they did end the war…”.) Regardless, Black does have a point.

Manchester Black: “You probably won’t believe this, but I used to love superheroes. But masks are for hiding. Capes are for playing. You were the first. The best. But now you’re a cliche and you don’t fit in anymore. Mad scientists, idiots in underwear, bank robbers — knock yourself out with that lot. But the real work — fixing the world — is ours.

The rules of engagement in a war zone are different than the rules of engagement for a local cop, and the vast majority of villains in comics are walking war zones. They should be dealt with like an enemy on the battlefield, particularly since they’ve erased any lines between civilian and military targets.

In many respects Superman is his very own deus ex machina, but writers would weave better tales if they didn’t always have that escape hatch at the ready. That is, unless … we see Superman as a Christ-like figure. If the writers would openly admit to giving him that role, I would be willing to accept that.

The following exchange between Lois and Clark is telling:

Lois: “Why do you have to do this? Why can’t you call someone else? …

Clark: They have to be stopped.

Lois: “I think they can beat you. I’m sorry, but they’re willing to go places you won’t — and they are so damn strong.”

Clark: “I heard a child say that he wanted to be in the elite when he grows up because it would be fun to kill bad guys. Fun to kill? People have to know that there’s another way. They have to see that someone believes in humanity strongly enough to…

Lois: “…to die for them?”

Is Superman a Christ-like hero, or is he just one heck of a superhero? If he’s just an “elite” superhero, then I will now quote Patton:

“Now I want you to remember that no bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

Regardless of what you think, you should give DC’s creative teams for their original animated films a thumbs up. They’re doing great work. Now, if they could only get those movies in order…

Related: David Goyer is right: The ‘Superman doesn’t kill’ rule hurts the character

Related: Man of Steel Trailer: Harbinger of an epic film

Related: Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ hits audiences with big ideas, soars over small-minded critics

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David Goyer is right: The ‘Superman doesn’t kill’ rule hurts the character

Man of Steel

Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ was one of the few films this summer that actually managed to live up to the hype, but it wasn’t without controversy. Whether it was on social media websites or just in the comments sections of many reviews, there seemed to be many fans who were upset with the ending because “Superman doesn’t kill.”

David Goyer has now weighed in on the subject, and he’s spot on in his analysis: The “Superman doesn’t kill” rule hurts the character.

Ditital Spy reports:

“We were pretty sure that was going to be controversial,” Goyer said. “It’s not like we were deluding ourselves, and we weren’t just doing it to be cool. We felt, in the case of Zod, we wanted to put the character in an impossible situation and make an impossible choice.

“This is one area, and I’ve written comic books as well and this is where I disagree with some of my fellow comic book writers – ‘Superman doesn’t kill’. It’s a rule that exists outside of the narrative and I just don’t believe in rules like that. I believe when you’re writing film or television, you can’t rely on a crutch or rule that exists outside of the narrative of the film.

“So the situation was, Zod says ‘I’m not going to stop until you kill me or I kill you.’ The reality is no prison on the planet could hold him and in our film Superman can’t fly to the moon, and we didn’t want to come up with that crutch.

“Also our movie was in a way Superman Begins, he’s not really Superman until the end of the film. We wanted him to have had that experience of having taken a life and carry that through onto the next films. Because he’s Superman and because people idolize him he will have to hold himself to a higher standard.” …

Boom. This is the exact argument I had with Dan Slott’s version of Peter Parker (before he killed the character and replaced Spider-Man with a guy who tried to exterminate six billion people).  In Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott’s Peter Parker had a “no one dies” rule, which came across as absurd and silly because sometimes heroes are placed in impossible situations. Sometimes they must make a decision that ends a life in order to save a life. Those are the sorts of stories that add new layers and depth to a character, and the response from advocates of “no one dies” or “Superman doesn’t kill” rules tends to be weak.

Dan Slott’s response to my critique of the “no one dies” mentality was to call me an idiot over and over again while abusing the caps-lock button, and then to distort what I said. The “Superman doesn’t kill” crowd often goes into a realm of thought occupied by anti-war protesters. “War is bad. Always. Nothing good ever comes from war. Nothing. … Superman doesn’t kill. Ever. Because taking a life is always bad. Always.”

Well, okay. On some level, yes. Sane people don’t thirst for war and don’t enjoy the thought of having to kill. But war did help end slavery in the United States and it also brought down Nazi Germany, for example. That’s why we honor the fallen. We know that in many ways the price for liberty is often paid for in blood.

Thomas Paine puts it more beautifully than I ever could:

“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated,” (Thomas Paine)

Years ago I worked with a Quaker, and she said there was nothing — nothing — that could convince her to take up arms against her fellow man. I said that I respected her decision, but that it would be nice if she acknowledged that her safety and security was then dependent on better men and women than she, who would stand up to those who would deny her of life and liberty. She was livid — and I was unapologetic.

If armed men burst into my Quaker-coworker’s house in the middle of the night and tried to harm her children, would she just stand there and watch? Or, would she find her inner Superman and attempt to extinguish the threat to her children? Would she, placed in that situation, be willing to possibly end lives to save lives? I would hope so.

If Superman fans want the best stories possible, in print or projected on the big screen, they should stop trying to get writers to adhere to random rules that limit the possibilities for character growth. It would be bizarre if creators tried to turn Superman into Batman, but at the same time he should not be spared the pain, sorrow, anguish and regret that can often come by making a life-or-death decision. If he truly is a hero, then he will exit the gauntlet a better person and teach us all something about ourselves in the process.

Ben Affleck’s outspoken politics hurt his Batman more than his box office bombs

Warner Bros. needed someone who could take on Superman. Correction: Warner Bros. needed someone who could theoretically beat Superman. They decided that man was … Ben Affleck.

Ben Affleck has been cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman in Zack Snyder’s still untitled Superman/Batman sequel to this past summer’s Man of Steel. The announcement was made today by Greg Silverman, President, Creative Development and Worldwide Production, and Sue Kroll, President, Worldwide Marketing and International Distribution, Warner Bros. Pictures. The studio has slated the film to open worldwide on July 17, 2015. …

In the announcement, Silverman stated, “We knew we needed an extraordinary actor to take on one of DC Comics’ most enduringly popular Super Heroes, and Ben Affleck certainly fits that bill, and then some. His outstanding career is a testament to his talent and we know he and Zack will bring new dimension to the duality of this character.”

Snyder also expressed his excitement about the casting of Affleck, noting, “Ben provides an interesting counter-balance to Henry’s Superman. He has the acting chops to create a layered portrayal of a man who is older and wiser than Clark Kent and bears the scars of a seasoned crime fighter, but retain the charm that the world sees in billionaire Bruce Wayne. I can’t wait to work with him.”

There is no getting around how utterly weird this decision is. However, there is also no getting around how awesome ‘Man of Steel’ was.

Fact: Zack Snyder knows what he is doing. ‘300’ was awesome. ‘Watchmen’ is severely underrated. ‘Man of Steel’ reinvigorated Superman. If he thinks he can make it work with Ben Affleck as Batman, then he’s earned the benefit of the doubt. Fans owe it to him to try their best to withhold judgement and give Affleck a shot.

Here are a few things to help you view the glass as half full:

  • Zack Synder gives his actors the Gym Jones treatment: Ben Affleck will be in shape when it’s time to film. Batman shape. “Holy-crap-is-that-Ben-Affleck?” shape.
  • ‘Chasing Amy’: Ben Affleck showed us he could do a relatively decent job at “tortured soul” when he played Holden in 1997’s Chasing Amy. Sure, his range is limited, but if Snyder can tap into his strengths and minimize his weaknesses then we might just have a decent Batman on our hands.
  • Fan backlash: In a weird way, Affleck will probably use all the anger directed his way as motivation to knock it out of the park.

People keep mentioning Daredevil as proof that Affleck can’t hack it as Batman, but a.) it’s not nearly as bad as people make it out to be and b.) Zack Synder is not Mark Steven Johnson.

In truth, I think the thing that hurts Ben Affleck the most is his political activism. How many people will look at him and think, “This Batman told me John Kerry should have been president in a post 9/11 world and that John Edwards was a trustworthy guy,” — or some other reaction based on his political talk show appearances?

Ben Affleck John Kerry

How can moviegoers see Affleck as a blank slate going into the theater when they’ve had to put up with his activism for years?

John Kerry Space

In this past presidential election Mr. Affleck was more muted, saying his feelings for the president were “complicated.” (i.e., I got duped in 2008 and don’t want to admit it.) However, from now until July 17, 2015, how many times will he lecture the American people on climate change, taxes, immigration or a whole host of public policy issues? Even his wife believes he’ll be running for office in the not-too-distant future. If I were a betting man, I’d say that Mr. Affleck will continue saying and doing things in public that will make it harder for roughly half the nation to lose themselves in his version of “Batman” on opening night. In that sense, Warner Bros. made an unwise decision.

In short, if Ben Affleck can keep a low profile from now until July 17, 2015, it will actually work to his advantage. People want to see whether he sinks or swims and the right teasers will heighten that interest even more. If Ben Affleck can keep from alienating people with political rhetoric, there’s a good chance that Synder will come through in the clutch. The key is for fans to do the right thing and try to walk into the theater with an open mind.

 

Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ hits audiences with big ideas, soars over small-minded critics

Man of Steel Zack Snyder

Zack Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ aims for epic, and on almost every level it delivers. That is probably why it set a new best-ever opening weekend record for June. It has grossed $125.1 million by its first Sunday in theaters. Audience reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, and yet the “professional” critics have been less kind. That is because ‘Man of Steel’ is about big ideas, and many critics have small minds.

A snapshot of some of the worse reviews indicate critics wanted something “fun,” which is probably a euphemism for “This isn’t anything like Christopher Reeves’ Superman.”

  • “Skimps on fun and romance.” (Newsday)
  • “There’s very little humor or joy in this Superman story.” Richard Roeper
  • “Man of Steel (has) a cold heart that no amount of spectacle can compensate for.” (Art House Film Guide)
  • “Where’s the fun?” (Movieline)

Could Zack Snyder have made a plucky Superman film? Sure. But that’s not what he wanted to do. He wanted to explore what it would really be like if someone like Superman walked among us. How would it affect him? How would the world react? Would it be a blessing or a curse?

Here’s what I said upon the release of the first trailer:

The truth is, the world would reject Superman. And in his love for humanity he would offer himself up to them. No matter how strong and powerful he was and no matter how much he tried to convince humanity that he loved it they would fear and, ultimately, seek to destroy him. A world in which Superman exists would thrust a moral weight upon the shoulders of its citizens that would be too uncomfortable to bear for millions (possibly billions) of people, and they would seek to find ways to cast off such a burden by banishing him from earth, discrediting or destroying him all together.

If Zack Synder plays his cards right he will have a hit movie on his hands that millions of its critics will hate for reasons they won’t be able to comprehend until years after the fact, if at all.

That is exactly the movie Zack Synder has made. It’s a movie about finding out why were put on this earth and what our purpose is. It’s about first knowing the difference between right and wrong — and then choosing the hard right instead of the easy wrong. It’s about having faith and hope and trust in our fellow man, but acknowledging that we are all fallible. It’s about a hero who we call Superman, but it’s also about the hero inside each and every one of us. ‘Man of Steel’ honors the individual, but stresses the importance of selfless service and the commitment we have to our family and our community.

The critics who say this movie has no “joy” are the ones who sound like they’re from another planet. ‘Man of Steel’ is one of the most uplifting superhero movies I’ve seen in ages, and it’s made better by a cast of actors who all basically knock it out of the ballpark.

Diane Lane is fantastic as Martha Kent, and the scene it which she soothes a young Clark as he struggles to understand his powers is pitch perfect. The tenderness she shows reminds us all of our own mother’s best moments — all heroes in their own right.

Kevin Costner’s role as Jonathan Kent is equally as impressive. He understands that work is a virtue. He has strong hands and a dirty shirt from his labor, but his heart is pure. He does his best to instill honesty and integrity in his boy in an imperfect world. And, even as he wrestles with moral conundrums, he gives his son a road map that will help him navigate life’s most difficult terrain.

Henry Cavill is Clark Kent. He is not Christopher Reeve’s Clark Kent — nor should he have been. Director Zack Snyder knows that when you start asking questions like “Who is Superman?” that you are also asking “Who is Clark Kent?” and “Who is Kal-El?” And the answer is that at his core he is pure, he is strong and he is kind. He embodies courage and selfless service. He represents our highest ideals — the ones we know we can never fully attain, but die honorably trying to pursue. How Clark’s essence manifests itself on screen will very from actor to actor, but Henry Cavill’s Superman does the character proud.

‘Man of Steel’ has its flaws, but one of them is certainly not the absence of joy. Zack Snyder knew exactly what he wanted, and everyone from the actors on screen to the special effects guys gave it to him. Love it or hate it, ‘Man of Steel’ is the finished product born out of a very clear vision of what a modern Superman movie needed to be in order to succeed.

At a pivotal point in the film, Clark realizes that as impressive as his powers are, he has not even begun to tap the well of potential inside of him. It’s a powerful scene — one in which millions of viewers will likely reflect on their own efforts to harness the greatness within them. That is a joyous thing. That gives us reason to smile, and hope for the future of all mankind.

Don’t worry about the critics, Mr. Snyder. People around the world have now listened to the words of Jor-El and know that while he was speaking to the character Clark, he was also speaking to them: they too can “accomplish wonders.” And for that, we are thankful.

Man of Steel Henry Cavill

If you see ‘Man of Steel’ and a cop, you’ve really only seen one hero; Just ask Boston

Superman Man of Steel

The new ‘Man of Steel’ trailer is out, and it looks mighty good. And, truthfully, it couldn’t come at a better time.

Jor El says of his son: “You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.”

The problem with ideals is that once you establish them, the people who “stumble” will be on full display for all the world to see. The smart stumblers don’t like that. And so, over the years the purveyors of popular culture have sought to do away with ideals, hoping to hide their fallibility in the process.

The easy wrong is always more popular than the hard right, and millions of Americans are seeing that over time too many easy wrongs only lead to heartache and despair. The United States as a whole is culturally lost, and a well-made Superman film just might get a few people to look for ways to right the ship.

Regardless, when trying to make sense of a world where lunatics detonate bombs amongst throngs of innocent civilians watching a marathon, we need not go to the movie theater to find a hero. They’re all around us if we’re willing to look.

Bill Iffrig, 78, lies on the ground as police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Iffrig, of Lake Stevens, Wash., was running his third Boston Marathon and near the finish line when he was knocked down by one of two bomb blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)
Bill Iffrig, 78, lies on the ground as police officers react to a second explosion at the finish line of the Boston Marathon in Boston, Monday, April 15, 2013. Iffrig, of Lake Stevens, Wash., was running his third Boston Marathon and near the finish line when he was knocked down by one of two bomb blasts. (AP Photo/The Boston Globe, John Tlumacki)

On Monday, April 15, The Associated Press’ Jonh Tlumacki responded to the Boston Marathon terror attack not by running for his life, but by freezing; he then captured the men and women who spring into action when disaster strikes. It’s an amazing photo, one that shows just how instinctual it is for some individuals to protect and defend their fellow citizens during a time of crisis.

There are always those who run away from danger — and those who run towards it. Those who run toward the flames aren’t inherently better people than those seeking safety, but at the same time a healthy civil society holds its law enforcement personnel in high esteem.

It’s sad that even in the initial moments of such a gruesome event that there were newscasters who chose to speculate in divisive and sick ways. Only seriously warped minds would watch a bomb blast that left three people dead and scores wounded, only to wonder how the political calculus of it all would play out.

Regardless, if you see a cop, a fireman or and EMS working in the near future you might want to stop them and say “thanks” just like you would a soldier returning home from overseas. Given that modern day terrorism has erased the traditional definition of a battlefield, it’s increasingly likely that local authorities will find themselves caught up in the fog of war. Luckily, we have men like Mr. Tlumacki who are willing to chronicle the heroics.

Man of Steel Trailer: Harbinger of an epic film

Man of Steel

The new Man of Steel trailer is amazing. It is flat out awesome. Every aspect of what has been teased over the last few months indicates that Zack Snyder has directed something that aims for epic and in all likelihood will succeed. Snyder proved that he could handle a cynical take on Superman (i.e., Dr. Manhattan in the underrated Watchman), and all the early indicators are that he will deliver with the real deal.

First, let’s look at Jonathan Kent:

Pa Kent: You just have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be, Clark. Whoever that man is, he’s going to change the world.

Pa Kent (Teaser Trailer 2): You’re not just anyone. One day you’re going to have to make a choice. You have to decide what kind of man you want to grow up to be. Whoever that man is — good character or bad — he’s going to change the world.

Bravo. Good and Evil exist — and not only do we have the power to choose the person we become, but we must choose. Moral clarity out of the gates is reassuring. The world is clearly a messy place (e.g., Should Clark have let children die to protect his secret?), but deep down we know what is right and just and what must be done.

Growing up, I was never a huge fan of Superman and I never could quite pinpoint why. He was just “boring.” I didn’t realize it for quite some time, but Jor El explains the situation clearly:

Jor El (Teaser Trailer 1): You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders.

Superman is the ideal we all strive for, but will never attain. He sets the bar for all other superheroes. He has nearly-unlimited power, but he chooses to serve others. He is so much more than the humans he walks among, and yet he loves and protects and cares for them. And perhaps the truth is I didn’t dislike Superman because he is actually boring; I disliked him because he reminded me of just how flawed I was. And am. And always will be. Superman is that moment in time when after months of denying something you know to be true you look in the mirror and it’s there — there’s no escaping it — and the truth just stares you in the eye and forces you to confront the issue or fight that much harder to live in denial. Zack Snyder gets it, and he wisely made sure to include it in the script:

Clark Kent: My father believed that if the world found out who I realize was, they’d reject me. He was convinced that the world wasn’t ready. What do you think?

When I first saw an image of Superman in cuffs and flanked by U.S. servicemen my instinct was to become skeptical. Would Snyder go the route of so many other Hollywood directors and portray the U.S. government as the “bad” guy for a good portion of the flick? I thought about it, and decided not to write on the issue because everything I’ve seen from him suggests he’s smarter than that. There had to be a better angle. After having viewed the trailer, I’m glad I held off.

The truth is, the world would reject Superman. And in his love for humanity he would offer himself up to them. No matter how strong and powerful he was and no matter how much he tried to convince humanity that he loved it they would fear and, ultimately, seek to destroy him. A world in which Superman exists would thrust a moral weight upon the shoulders of its citizens that would be too uncomfortable to bear for millions (possibly billions) of people, and they would seek to find ways to cast off such a burden by banishing him from earth, discrediting or destroying him all together.

Man of Steel 1

If Zack Synder plays his cards right he will have a hit movie on his hands that millions of its critics will hate for reasons they won’t be able to comprehend until years after the fact, if at all.

DC’s ‘prominent gay’ superhero comes out of the phone booth soon

DC has announced that one of its prominent superheroes will come out of the closet soon. I predict they will go with Power Girl or Wonder Woman because they are two of the safest choices the company can make.

It wasn’t long ago that Grant Morrison announced that Batman was gay. At the time I said that my assumption was that he really just wanted to get the editorial ball rolling in that direction, and perhaps he did. Although, according to DC, President Obama helped them “evolve” on the issue:

Honchos at Superman’s comic book home, DC Comics, said this weekend that one of their most identifiable (but as of yet unnamed) straight characters will soon be coming out of the closet, according to a report.

At the Kapow Comic Convention held last weekend in London, DC co-publisher Dan DiDio said the publisher would be reintroducing a previously existing character who would now be “one of our most prominent gay characters,” the website BleedingCool.com reports.

Didio said DC’s position had shifted on the subject since he said in an interview last year that any homosexual characters would be new introductions, and that none of their existing characters’ sexual orientations would shift.

DC vice president Bob Wayne likened DC’s change in tune to President Obama’s shift on gay marriage, explaining that DC’s policy “has evolved,” the report says.

DC’s original plan — to introduce new gay characters instead of switching the sexuality of existing characters — was the appropriate step. As I said before, when editors go out of their way to shove the Progressive worldview down their readers’ throat it backfires. If DC decides to take a character with a history that includes heterosexual relationships and says, “Just so you know, The Flash, Barry Allen … yeah, he’s gay now,” it’s jarring. People don’t like when the integrity of a character or his continuity is messed with. If they freak out over superpower alterations, you can bet they’d freak out if Dan DiDio said, “Superman always had a thing for Jimmy Olsen. We’ll be exploring that relationship this summer.”

My guess is that if DC is going to make one of their heavy hitters attracted to the same sex it will make Wonder Woman a lesbian. The company will want all the attention that comes with its “evolution,” but they won’t want to annoy the guys who still buy the comics. She’s a character whose had her past messed with multiple times, so it’s not as if they can’t change it back. She also came from a land of Amazon women … so it would be hard to argue with an editor who took the next logical step in regards to romance for that world.

However, my Wonder Woman prediction is mostly based on one simple opinion: It’s perhaps the most cowardly choice DC can make for such a “brave” evolution. DC’s editors don’t care about religious objections to their decision — they care about sales. They will make the most money on big-busted, scantily clad women making out in the pages of their comic. Need a quick cash cow? Do a cover with Woman Woman making out with another lady. They will even make variant covers (I guarantee it). The number of complaints DC will receive from a guy-guy decision will be much higher than if they go with girl-girl. I’m not saying that it’s right — I’m just acknowledging reality. And again, this all depends on DC not pulling a fast one (no Flash-pun intended) and naming a lower-tier character as its gay superhero.

Only choosing Power Girl might be more cowardly. She’s a woman who is a prominent character, but not really on the level of Wonder Woman. She falls in that grey area in between, because all comic fans know who she is but yet the average person on the street would not.

So there you have it: Wonder Woman or Power Girl. Those are my predictions. When the actual decision is made I’ll be blogging on it. See you then.

The Man of Steel’s One Weakness: Political Hacks

Is Henry Cavill's Superman the kind that fights for "Truth, Justice, and...All That Stuff", or will he fight for the American Way? The intensity in his eyes says director Zack Synder has the Man of Steel back on track.

The first images of Henry Cavill as Superman are up and about. He looks good. Case closed, which frees us up to ask the more important question: Who is the Man of Steel? Underneath all those bulging biceps—deep down inside—what’s really making him tick? What motivates him? Who is he at the center of his being?

Not too long ago moviegoers were asking the same thing about Captain America, and it turned out that despite the director’s best efforts at self-sabotage, it turned out to be a good film.

Because Superman is an American icon, writers and directors worth their salt need to have a firm grasp on America’s core principles. Superman should exude our highest ideals, which is why doing him “right” is extremely difficult. Placed in the hands of a confused writer or pseudo-intellectual, the character will collapse under his own weight. Writer Grant Morrison (who can be brilliant at times) misses the mark when he says:

“Each decade, these characters represent our own best idea of what we’d like to be, our own big idea…Superman started out as a socialist fighter for the oppressed in 1938, but that was the time of the Depression. In the ’80s, he’s a yuppie,” (H/T Four Color Media Monitor).

Wrong. Only bad writers are so lured by a sign of the time that they’d boil a character down to something that can be summed up in pithy pejoratives or political talking points. Only bad writers mistake universal rights for international opinion. Only bad writing essentially creates FDR’s Superman and Reagan’s Superman. Good writing transcends the kind of political sniping Grant Morrison sets the stage for.

So when Henry Cavill says he wants to “[be] as true as I can be to the original character and who the character is,” someone needs to follow up with the soon-to-be Clark Kent. They need to poke and prod his muscles with something deeper than, “How cool is it to put the big ‘S’ on every morning for work?”

I have confidence that Zack Snyder will do Superman proud. In fact, I would argue that his spot-on understanding of Dr. Manhattan (an awesome, yet cynical, take on what Superman would end up like if he existed) has prepared him for the task. He’s ready.

And now, it’s time to watch Rorschach die in all his awesomeness.

Superman Citizenship Controversy: Just The Tip of the Iceberg.

Did you ever imagine you'd read a Superman comic where U.S. servicemen were ordered to aim sniper rifles at The Man of Steel? Neither did I. But it's now a reality, thanks to the creative geniuses at DC.

The plan to have Superman renounce his U.S. citizenship appears to have been scuttled, thanks in part to comics fans who know character assassination when they see it. When I first reacted, I noted that a thorough review would have to wait until I read the story in its entirety. I can now safely say that I have done so, and zero retractions are necessary.

Upon reading The Incident (fitting title, indeed!), there aren’t too many new angles to cover. I suppose it’s interesting that David Goyer thought the Obama administration, upon its first disagreement with longtime-ally Superman, would react by ordering Kryptonite-armed U.S servicemen to put the big ‘S’ in their crosshairs. Instead of simply calling in Supes for a frank discussion (you would have thought he earned at least that much), the current administration flanks him with snipers. Superman says to the president’s national security advisor:

“Those Marine snipers you’ve got stationed up on that ridge about 200 yards to the North…their winter camo doesn’t do much to hide them, since I can see into the U.V. and infrared spectrums. That high velocity round in your primary sniper’s rifle is Kryptonite, right? You expect me to give you trouble?”

With friends like that (just as paranoid as your run-of-the-mill Iranian mullah nut), who needs enemies? How inept can this fictionalized U.S. government be if they think they can touch a guy who’s faster than a speeding bullet (much, much faster) with a high tech sniper rifle? And what kind of sick world would it be if a U.S. Marine ever had to be given a direct (lawful) order to kill Superman?

Regardless, there’s a moment in The Incident that sums up exactly why liberal writers often have such a hard time crafting stories for characters whose essence is America:

“I’m an alien, Mr. Wright. Born on another world. I can’t help but see the bigger picture. I’ve been thinking too small. I realize that now,” (Superman).

What Superman doesn’t get (and by that I mean “David Goyer”), is that America is one of the few countries that is about big ideas. Universal ideas. God-given rights instead of rights doled out by men with guns and power and money. In this instance, Superman is right—he is thinking incredibly small. The only problem? It’s caused by a fundamental misunderstanding about the nature of The United States and its place in the world.

Within The Incident, Superman acknowledges that he’s fought dictators and despots from across the universe (some of them time-travelers). And yet, even then the superhero doesn’t make the connection that America is a unique and special place. The thugs in Iran who control people by fear and intimidation are no different than the galactic debris Superman encounters. America, because of the nature of its founding, is wholly different. A writer who understands the importance of natural rights would have recognized this, and adjusted Superman’s dialogue accordingly.

As I’ve said before, I don’t expect (or want) artists and writers to give me a Hannitized history of the United States. However, writers with an American icon in their care should at least have a basic understanding of American history. If they’re going to force-feed their worldview on others, they can at least do so with finesse. I haven’t seen that happen with Marvel Comics or the DC Universe. Superman may not end up renouncing his U.S. citizenship to the United Nations in Action Comics #901, but The Incident is just further evidence that the industry is out of touch with conservative fans. My disposable income will continue to trickle until changes are made.

Hint to David Goyer: A good start would be nixing the idea to have U.S. Marines aiming at Superman with Kryptonite rounds.